As the first lawyer in her family, Eva DiGiammarino encourages women to understand their professional worth.
As the first lawyer in her family, Eva DiGiammarino encourages women to understand their professional worth. She is an outspoken advocate for equality and female empowerment who enjoys sharing her words of wisdom with other young women. Eva recently opened the doors to her own family law firm DiGiammarino Law in Woodbridge, Ontario.
What was it like growing up in your family?
I grew up in Woodbridge, Ontario and I was raised in a feminist household. My mom’s side of the family came to Canada as refugees in 1968, from the Czech Republic, and my dad’s side of the family emigrated from Italy in the mid 1950s. My mom had her own business and my parents encouraged my younger sister and I to have our own too. My parents taught us to work hard, be emotionally and financially independent and to be educated. Growing up I was a voracious reader and an introvert. I liked crime dramas and mysteries. I read Nancy Drew and watched Murder She Wrote and Law & Order episodes religiously.
Why law? What inspired your legal aspirations?
I always had intentions of working as a teacher. When I was an undergrad student at York University, I volunteered with Peace by Peace – a non profit organization in which volunteers are taught a conflict resolution curriculum and then teach that curriculum to grade 5 students in Toronto/GTA. This experience was my first exposure to conflict resolution and I loved it! I got hooked and I immediately switched my career path to one in which I could assist people stuck in conflict – so I turned to law school. I still enjoy teaching and hope to teach conflict resolution later on in my career.
You’re unapologetic about being critical of the legal system. What changes are you hoping to see?
We must find a way to confront gender discrimination and sexual harassment. The legal industry in Ontario needs to work towards changing stereotypes about female lawyers. I am lucky to have great female mentors and I love being a mentor. I believe in access to affordable legal services. I think technology is great for the legal profession, but the court system is behind with technology. This limits access for everyday people, which is a shame.
Where did you earn your law degree?
University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. University of Ottawa has a great law program but looking back, I realize it was a high stress environment and a pressure incubator. There is so much emphasis on articling positions and working at a large corporate firm and now I realize, the time I spent occupied with these concerns was wasted. I am happy I found the LPP – it gave me the confidence to move forward with my goal of working as a sole-practitioner.
Where did you complete your LPP work placement?
I completed my work placement at Wolfson Law Professional Corporation, a small sized firm located in Toronto. Much of the work I did was on the civil litigation files, so I conducted research, drafted court documents, attended judgment debtor exams and took on carriage of small claims files. It was a fantastic experience and luckily they extended my placement from four months to nine months. The lawyers really took the time to mentor and teach me, which I am so grateful for. I particularly appreciated having the opportunity to shadow the firm’s great lawyers in court as well as the responsibility to argue a small claims file in court on my own.
Describe a memorable or significant experience during the work placement component of the LPP:
I really enjoyed the experience of having a litigation file from beginning to end, the culmination of which required us to argue a case in court at 393 University Avenue in Toronto. I gave opening and closing statements and was able to question in-chief and cross-examine witnesses. Best of all, a retired judge presided over the case and provided constructive feedback.
Describe some of the more particularly helpful tools or skills you acquired during the LPP:
The most valuable thing I took away from the LPP were the lessons on practice management. The LPP helped me when it came time to open my law firm, DiGiammarino Law: I took the business plan I made while I was a candidate in the program to a bank and was successful in obtaining financing for my business. We also got feedback and guidance from senior lawyers on a weekly basis – that was invaluable.
Words of advice you can offer future LPP candidates:
Use the program to fill the education gaps left from law school. For instance, I didn’t learn anything about practice management in law school, so I took every opportunity to learn about it while I was an LPP candidate.